Printables

Planning a Family Vacation Without Losing Your Mind (plus FREE packing list printable!)

                                     
Summer is here! Schools are letting out and everyone starts thinking about pool days, park time, and family vacations! When you’re planning a vacation with kids, it can be easy to stress about lots of details: where to sleep, what to eat, what to bring, etc. I have a list of ten things to help you plan a family vacation without losing your mind (plus a free packing list printable, so keep reading!)

1. Don’t overplan.

Kids are unpredictable. You may arrive at your destination only to find that your kids are content with doing one activity the entire time you’re there! Have a few preplanned outings or activities, but keep your schedule loose and allow for flexibility.

2. Bring snacks.

This is basically a given when you’re traveling with kids, but it will make your life easier. Rather than having to search for food to eat when those inevitable hangry meltdowns occur, pack some healthy snacks that your kids enjoy. It also helps for those “You want me to eat WHAT?!” moments that happen a little more often when traveling. ;)

3. Schedule nap/rest times.

When you’re away from home and filling your days with activities that aren’t the norm, your kids are going to need some down time. And let’s face it – so are you! Plan to spend at least an hour each day (or more, depending on the ages of your kiddos) resting and doing quiet activities like reading, card games, or taking naps. This will help everyone to recharge and have more energy – and fewer meltdowns!

4. Pack light.

Unless you’re vacationing in a remote village somewhere, you probably don’t need to pack everything you own. Many hotels and water parks have laundry available, so you don’t have to worry if baby goes through all five outfits in the first day. When my kids were younger, I would pack lots of toys for them to play with, only to discover that they were so excited to be in a new place, they barely looked at their toys! So bring the bare minimum and know that you can always grab extra supplies at a nearby store if you find you absolutely need them. You’ll be happy to carry fewer suitcases!

5. Pack a few familiar comforts.

Whether it’s a lovey, an essential oil diffuser, or a cozy bathrobe for snuggling in after swimming, everyone likes to feel at home when they’re away. I always let my kids chose one stuffed animal or blankie to have on long car rides or in hotel rooms. That familiar feeling tends to help everyone sleep a little better!

6. Make a list.

I just looove lists. Whenever we take a trip, I make a huge list of everything I need, so we don’t forget anything. I really adore checking off boxes. :) I have a great packing printable for you free at the end of this post!

7. Choose a kid-friendly location.

Not all vacation spots are made for kids, so choose wisely. We love vacationing in the Wisconsin Dells, because there’s something for everyone. The Kalahari Resort is family friendly and has activities for all ages. They have both indoor and outdoor waterslides, so you can have fun even when the weather isn’t that great.

The Kalahari Resort here in Wisconsin recently added an awesome new outdoor waterslide, which just opened this Memorial Day. The new ride “The Smoke That Thunders” looks amazing! You can pile on these big rafts with your family and friends and thunder down the epic waterslide. I can’t wait to try it!

Over the years, my family has traveled to the Wisconsin Dells many times, and the Kalahari Resort is perfect for families with multiple ages. Since there’s such a wide variety under one roof, you don’t have to get in your car to go elsewhere unless you want to. One-stop vacationing is my jam. Because once I’ve gotten everyone out of the car, I really don’t want to get back in unless we’re going home! Mom can hit up the spa (um, yes please!!) while the kids are playing arcade games, then we can all meet back at the waterpark. There are water activities appropriate for every age level, so no one feels left out. That’s important for a big family like mine. ;)

Since there’s so much to do in one spot at the Kalahari Resort, you really don’t need to pack much. They have towels, food, fun activities, arcade games, and more. So you just need to pack a few personal items! I’ve made a free printable to help your packing go a little smoother.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PACKING LIST PRINTABLE

If you’re not close enough to drive to the Wisconsin Dells Kalahari location, be sure to check out the Sandusky, Ohio location!

What packing tips do you have to help keep your sanity?

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Keeping the Kids Busy This Summer

Summer has officially begun, and you may be thinking of ways to keep your kiddos busy. We use screens really sparingly around here, but sometimes I just want something quick to occupy my boys. And if I don’t have something on hand, it’s super easy to fall back on iPads and Netflix. That’s why I’m so glad to have this Boredom Buster Kit from Andrea’s Notebook.

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This post contains affiliate links.

There are SO many different activities in this kit! Some of the activities require some additional craft supplies, but many of them are just print and go. And there’s such a wide variety of choices!boredom-busters-sales-image

After scrolling through the activities, I chose the Fill-in-the-Blank stories from the Creative Kit. I knew that my oldest would love this one, because it’s done MadLibs style.

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There are several stories to choose from, and the instructions are clear enough that your kids can do them on their own. One page is just for the words, so they fill it out without looking at the story. Adjectives, people, emotions, etc.

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Then they transfer the words over to the corresponding spot in the story. Sidenote: I love how bold and colorful these pages are! Fun and bright, just like summer!

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The giggles have begun!

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Have your kiddos read the story aloud to you, and watch as they laugh at their silly story!! Seriously, we had SO much fun with these!

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And share it with siblings, of course. These two would not.stop.laughing! I remember how much I loved these things as a kid, and they haven’t lost their appeal even now! Each story also has an additional activity that goes along with it – this one has your kiddo draw the silly robot they wrote about in the story.

Check out all the different activities that come in the Boredom Buster Kit:

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Use code BUSTERS10 for 10% off through July 31st

Buy Now!

You can buy the entire Boredom Buster Kit
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or you can purchase only the Adventure Kit

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Or you can purchase just the Creative Kit.

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Personally, I’m glad to have both kits, because the Adventure Kit is more outdoor activities and the Creative is more indoor – so some are great for getting outside in the summer sun, others are perfect for some downtime inside when it’s hot or rainy. Plus, there’s a bonus Reading Kit you can add on. This is full of printable book review pages, reading logs, library lists, bookmarks to color, and more. My boys love to read, so we are definitely going to use these!

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Once he had completed the first fill-in-the-blank story, my son asked for another and wouldn’t stop until we had gone through them all! It will be super fun to print these out again to do another version of these silly stories. After we do some of the other activities in the kit, of course. I’ve already printed out the story cubes from the Creative Kit, and they’re ready to go when the boredom strikes!

Use code BUSTERS10 for 10% off through July 31st
Buy Now!
boredom-busters-sales-image
Buy Now!

FREE Train Valentine Printable

I’ve always loved the tradition of exchanging Valentines! And now that I have kids, I love it even more. :) Even as homeschoolers, we get together with other homeschooling families and exchange cards. This year I’m slightly ahead of the game, and I made a fun printable for my boys to use. This can be a candy or no-candy Valentine! Keep reading to download your free printable!FREE Train Valentine Printable a great non-candy valentine option

When it comes to the Valentines my boys are going to hand out to other kids, I like to go simple. I don’t want something they’re going to have spend all day making (unless they are going to do it all on their own… in that case, I’m all for it). These are perfect – you can print and go!

Choo Choo Valentine

Print them onto regular paper or cardstock, then if you want to add something special, tape on some candy or a Thomas the Train pencil (affiliate link) or some fun stickers!

Train Valentine Printable

We have these fun mini-trains that would be perfect non-candy option for a small group, like a preschool playgroup or even your own kids. Ours aren’t quite the same as these mini-trains, but they’re similar.

free train valentine printable

:::::: download and print out your FREE ::::::
:::::: Choo Choo Valentine ::::::

quick valentine printable

If you’re looking for more Valentine ideas, check out these posts:

       Free Dinosaur Valentine PrintablesEasy Last-minute Valentines

 DIY Heart Pencil Toppers for Valentine's Day

Painted Planter Tutorial and FREE teacher appreciation printable!

You can smell it in the air… summer is coming! If your little ones are still finishing out their school year, chances are you’ll need a teacher gift or two. As a former elementary school teacher, I can tell you how wonderful it is to feel so appreciated at the end of a long school year! This easy DIY is something that teachers can enjoy year-round, and if you don’t have a teacher to buy for, make one for yourself!

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Supplies:

  • succulent planter (I found these fabulous ceramic hanging planters at Target. Here is a similar one and a glass one.)
  • paint {or a Sharpie marker!}
  • paintbrush
  • Free Thank You Printable

1. Choose the color and find a paint that is appropriate for the material of your planter.

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2. Begin to paint your design! I began with polka dots:DSC_5999

3. Continue to paint all around the planter until you’ve covered it as much or as little as you want. Experiment with fun designs, like these plus signs:

DSC_60244. Fill with succulents and the appropriate dirt/rocks.

DSC_60585. Then, if you’re giving these to a teacher, print off these easy thank you cards that say “Thank You for helping me grow” – I love a good punny thank you note!

Download the Free Teacher Appreciation Printable Thank You for Helping me Grow cards now

Each page has four cards, so you can print them out on card stock and have ready made cards for each teacher in your child’s life or print them onto regular paper and glue to the front of a card that your child colors. I found that they print perfectly on these postcards, which are perforated to it super easy if you have multiple teachers!DSC_6073

And if you aren’t in need of a teacher gift, just hang them up and enjoy them yourself!DSC_6098

Or maybe do both? Because let’s be honest, you just can’t have too many succulents around! So fresh and bright – great for a gift or great for your own home.DSC_6093

This is really one of my absolute favorite non-sewing crafts I’ve made lately, and I just couldn’t part with these two. So I had to make a different one to send with my oldest for his last day of his homeschool group. And hopefully my black thumb will be able to keep these lovelies alive. :)

Painted Planter